Thursday, January 24, 2013

Keds & Cankles

Why is it the older I get the less I care what other people think?

Where does the calf end?
I'm forty and I'm starting to lose my need to "be cool" -- whatever "cool" is at 40.  (Probably that I don't talk about shopping at Walmart even if I do, I get my nails done at a salon with a french word in its name and my kids all go to Ivy League Schools.)  I can't wait to be 70 and not give a darn about what anybody thinks about ANYTHING. I figure if I am starting to feel this freedom at 40, that my the time I almost double that, I will be absolutely free to wear my bleach white Keds with my equally white bootie socks with my blinding white polyester knee-length shorts and not feel one iota of shame if I have spider veined calves, double-bubble knees or "cankles." I just won't care.  I will be free to be me.  By then, I'll have had plenty of time in my "younger years" to worry about my butt, my breasts, the way I walk, the angle of my teeth, the way I look when I'm eating, walking, PMS-ing or  breathing.  My biggest worry will be whether or not dinner at the senior center will have mashed potatoes and those awesome sourdough rolls we had last Thursday night.
High school was the height of my self-consciousness which is probably true for most people. I was a pretty confident teenager, but like most, I hated to be seen alone in public.  Go to the mall by myself?  NEVER. (The only thing worse was to have to go with my parents.) Sit in a booth and have a cheeseburger at McDonald's...alone?  HORROR! And I never, ever, ever went to a movie by myself.  Ever.  That just screamed LOSER.  Now at 40, I would KILL to have two hours of free time to go to a movie by myself. Well, not completely by myself.  I would be accompanied by a colossal tub of popcorn with a jumbo bag of M&Ms poured inside all smothered in three extra pumps of liquid gold butter.  I'd plop my lone self down with my 14 dollar heart-attack-in-a-tub right in the middle of the theater.  I'd shush the restless group of giggling, gabbing teenagers in the back row...
Shut up you prisoners of cool! I've got a movie to watch and popcorn to shove down! So what if I'm 40 and this is the the final movie in the Twilight Trilogy?  I can handle a creepy-sexy vampire and shirtless hunky wolf  all by myself.  In fact, I like watching movies all by myself.  Laugh all you want you juvenile tightly wound balls of self-consciousness. I enjoy being with myself.  Alone.  Silent. In a dark theater.  With enough popcorn for everyone in attendance...wearing my prescription glasses, the sweater I brought with me "in case the theater is cold" and my un-scuffed super-white Keds. So what!
Can't wait to get to that moment.
For now, I'm somewhere in between.  I can go to a movie by myself when I am out of town.  Or maybe  in town, if it is a really early matinee and a slow, low-budget documentary about the aquatic migration of minks in Great Britain and it has been out for 2 months.  I won't get popcorn.  I'll rush by it with longing eyes, slip into the dark theater with my head down and sit in the first seat I find on the aisle.  Then I'll stare at my cell phone until the previews start. People will think my significant other is late or a no show.  I'll have on my leather jacket and my Nikes (I got both at a discount store, but no one will know.)  I won't care what the three other people in the theater think.  Sort of.
There is another situation that tests your self-confidence levels.
Eating alone.
If you are a teen - Eating in the CAFETERIA alone is torture. A fate worse than a zit on prom night.  Walking out with your tray into the great expanse of teen faces, the laughing that seems to be directed at you as you pass by table after table then finally sit down somewhere, anywhere.  Acting like you don't care that its just you and your corn-dog is tough.
I never ate in the cafeteria in high school so I avoided this moment of awkwardness.  I slopped through the line, got my corn-dog with the burnt tip, my greasy but delicious tater tots and an Alta Dena milk that was harder to open than my economics book and headed out for the appropriate "lawn."  There was the freshman, sophomore, and junior lawns and of course - the best lawn of all - the slightly elevated, always green, picnic tables galore - senior lawn.  You were allowed on that lawn only if you were a senior, were escorted by a senior, could pitch/hit/throw like a senior or if you had a puppy tucked in your Letterman jacket.  Other than that, you stayed where you belonged on your designated lawn.  No exceptions.  Wait your turn Scrub.  Go to your tiny turf soph.  Step back Jr.  Someday, you'll be allowed in the lush green expanse with the buff boys and beautiful girls, but for now, enjoy your tiny square of crabgrass.

I am to the point now where I can eat alone. If I have to.  I mean, I don't go to Spago's by myself for a fillet Mignon, then take a long walk on the beach and give myself a kiss on the porch, but I can eat a veggie burger at The Habit by myself without feeling like a dork. That's progress.
There is freedom in not caring what others think. I'd like more of this freedom.  I welcome it as it comes with my fluctuating hormones, my creaky knees and my failing eyesight.The teens at the back of the movie theater are not who I am living for anyway.  My peers at work matter, but they are not the ultimate judge.  My parents influence me and matter tremendously, but they word is not the final Word.  The world is not my judge.  People can be my critic, but my worth is not in what they say about me or think about me any more than it is in what I wear, or where I live or how much money I make.  I matter because I am a child of God.  His opinion of me matters the most.

I hope he likes Keds.

-Hope A. Horner, 2012
Follow on Twitter @ HopeNote

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